Biogas buses ‘better value’ than electric

Biomethane fuelled vehicles three times cheaper than electric, government figures show.

The UK government’s latest funding round for cleaner buses demonstrates that electric buses arguably represent poorer value for money than biomethane-fuelled equivalents.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) revealed the six latest winners of its low-emission bus scheme on 28 August. Six applicants, including local authorities and private companies, were awarded more than £11 million (€11.9 million ) to buy 153 new vehicles and accompanying infrastructure.

Five winning bids were for a total of 43 electric buses, costing £5.6 million  (€6.1 million ), plus £719,326 (€781,683) for charging infrastructure. This works out at about £148,000 (€160,724) per bus.

Only one award was for biomethane buses, going to a consortium of local councils in the west of England. This was both the largest single grant and by far the least expensive per vehicle.

It received £3.1 million  (€3.3 million ) for 110 vehicles and £1.7 million  (€1.8 million ) for refuelling them. This comes to less than £43,600 (€47,379) each – more than three times cheaper than the electric buses.

The winners of the initial funding round, announced in July 2016, had the same pattern. Electric bus projects averaged £173,500 (€188,416) per bus, including charging infrastructure, with biomethane projects coming in at £89,200 (€96,949).

The first double-decker to be powered by biomethane has been introduced in Bristol.

Bus company First West of England announced the move on 9 August, following a successful two-year trial of a 40-seater biogas bus.

By running on biomethane produced from sewage and farm and food waste, the bus’s greenhouse-gas emissions are 84% lower than a Euro 5 diesel vehicle on a well-to-wheel basis. Its pollutant emissions are also lower than many modern Euro 6 diesel passenger cars.

The new bus costs around £295,000 (€320,476). In comparison, Bristol’s electric buses cost about £675,000 (€733,646) and its Euro 6 diesel models cost £250,000 (€271,493).

Source: ENDS Waste Bioenergy

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